I bumped into my poetry guru yesterday at happy hour.
He was flirting with my muse (that unfaithful hussy). They reminded me that April will soon be upon us and we must be prepared for National Poetry Writing Month. He gave me a searching look, adjusted his simple homespun robe and after finishing his pint, asked me if I had the appropriate mantra for the event. My muse excused herself for the powder room. I was mystified. That’s exactly how he wants me. I am an empty vessel and he is a full pint of wisdom. He turned on his cushion to face me and suddenly exclaimed:
Hey scribbler— wake up! I asked you if you had the right mantra.
What are you, asleep at the wheel? Dang.
You mean like OM-MANI-PADME-POETRY ? I offered.
No, no, no—kid’s stuff. You couldn’t levitate Rumi’s corpse with that. Try again, he quipped.
Ummmm . . . well — maybe, uh NAM-MYO-HO-READ-MY-LIPS ?
He gazed sullenly into his empty glass, signaled the bartender for another, and gave me a penetrating glance.
Where you come up with this garbage, huh? One more shot at it, my little bard.
Hmmmm, I murmured. Then, in a flash of blinding insight, dazzling the retina of my third eye, it came to me:
ULALUME-INVICTUS-NEVERMORE. Hah ! I had him with the ancient lyrical wisdom. I thought.
The bartender served him. He savored it, then chuckled.
The hell was that—Edgar Allan Henley ? Have you learned nothing from me, Mr. Brilliant?
He closed his eyes for a moment, then manifested a shining lotus blossom under the empty bar-stool next to him and told me:
Look in there, kid. Careful with the petals . . .
Inside the center of the ghostly lotus was a mantra inscribed in fiery letters on a skull sculpted out of deep green jade:
His clear eyes sparkled as he muttered:
chant that and be happy, scribbler. And watch out or I steal your muse.
Now get outta here and start writing.